A gift given
One day, early on in my marriage, my wife told me she wanted to get me a gift. A coworker of hers was about to have a baby and their young cat wouldn’t stay out of the crib. She was looking for a permanent home for the pet. My wife has always known me to be a cat person (I turn them into needy little monsters), and without us even meeting the cat, they dropped her off.
It’s been nearly 10 years and I can’t imagine my sweet, loving, obnoxiously loud Sylvanna not being around, but that’s not the purpose of this story. See, my wife isn’t a cat person. She grew up hating the ‘creatures.’ This was a gift for me, selflessly given on her part. She could have demanded we get a dog first, but she didn’t. She wanted to give me something that she knew would bring me joy, and she chose her gift based on her knowledge of me.
A gift displayed
‘Sweet Brandtly, you have such a gift,’ my grandmother would often say to me growing up (no, I don’t want to talk about the nickname). Whether it was me practicing piano (which I haven’t touched in half a lifetime), or writing fiction based on my previous D&D campaign, there was that word – gift.
We hear it a lot. Reality shows use it when an unlikely electrician is able to dance in a way that takes your breath away or a young girl is able to sing with the depth and power of an experienced vocalist. ‘They have a gift’ we say, sometimes jealously. If only we had a gift like that our lives would be different.
The juxtaposition of gifts
I’ve written a lot about my insecurities surrounding writing. Expectations left like weeds to overtake a yard, an unattainable perfection that was like an impassable wall, or the fear of failure that stopped me in my tracks because ‘not doing anything was easier than failing.’
The culmination of these insecurities was the idea of how a gift given and a gift displayed intersect.
Before that, however, I need to put something out there. I’ve only barely touched on the idea of my faith here on this blog. If I’m honest, there was a fear that it would limit my audience. What it did, in reality, was limit my writing. I realized I can’t write about my journey, about my desire to write, without talking about my faith. You’ll see why.
I took some time to stop writing (not that I was doing much anyway) because it was so heavy, so difficult to do. I needed to process and understand what was happening. I took it to God. I spent three weeks in quiet meditation working through what was holding me back.
I started by handing him the entire idea of writing. It was a kind of surrender. What I saw in my mind was handing Him a dull, green marble wrapped in layers that obscured the light that fought to shine. Come to find out, there were three layers: Expectations, Perfection, and Fear of Failure. Each week we worked through processing each one. I journaled and agonized, but each week a layer was pulled back.
At the end of the three weeks what I had was a brightly shining marble with impossible depth nestled amongst the obscuring layers that had kept it dark. I didn’t know what to do.
That’s when I felt Him urge me to take it back, felt Him tell me that it was my gift.
See, it was both kinds of gifts.
It was given to me by a Father that knows me deeply and wants me to flourish and experience joy. He knew this would be a gift that would bring me to life. It was a gift freely given, no expectations set upon it. It was given selflessly.
It is a gift that I can proudly display, a gift I can enjoy and practice. It is rooted in years and years of reading fiction, of the writing projects I enjoyed in college. If someone were to tell me today that I have a ‘gift’ for writing, I would no longer argue with them, fearing they’ll know my insecurities and know me for the fraud I believed myself to be.
This idea of it being a gift is the very foundation from which I write. It’s a strong foundation, not rooted in my abilities, in what should be, or what I can get out of it.
There are no expectations that I’ll fail to meet, because there are no expectations beyond simply doing it.
My writing won’t ever be perfect, but it will be my voice, and it will constantly improve.
Fear of failure fades into the background when the fear has been faced and failure redefined.
Writing brings me to life. It brings the world into sharper focus, helps me process difficult emotions. It’s a gift that I received and a gift I will share.
What is your gift, freely given, and what is keeping it from shining bright as the sun?